Five Questions with: Marvin Lewis

Redskins defensive coordinator Marvin Lewis shocked his former club when he came to Washington. He, and the Redskins, hope the success he had in Baltimore follows him as well.

Q: Your linebackers in Baltimore last year had more sacks than all the Redskins combined. Do you like to bring them more?

A: We'll pressure when it's appropriate to pressure. And when they think we're not going to pressure them, then we're going to pressure. When they get off the bus they know we'll try to knock the quarterback down. That's part of playing defense. If you don't affect that guy under center then you haven't left the game leaving the right impression. When they line up to play they know we're going to attack the offense. In order to be successful you have to play man to man. [Fred Smoot and Champ Bailey] give us a lot of flexibility and they like to play it and that's the fun thing.

Q: How is this challenge different from others in your career?

A: There's some legitimacy to how we do things. Maybe there was doubt before. Now there are no doubts, even though you're coming in as the new man on the block. We're in that honeymoon period now. There's no such thing as a guru or a genius. We'll work very hard at what we do.

Q: There's some talk that Bruce Smith might be more effective if he doesn't have to play every down. Is that something you might bring up with him?

A: We won't have to talk to him about it. If that's the best thing for our team, that's the way it's going to be. We're not in a popularity contest. Obviously if we can limit his exposure on the field and get off the field on third downs, we'd eliminate snaps right there. We want to develop a young defensive end who can take pressure off Bruce.

Q: You have a healthy attitude when it comes to losing players. How do you do that when you sometimes have to cut them because of the salary cap or when you can't afford them?

A: The greatest thing about free agency is the opportunity. If we can't pay him what he feels like he can make elsewhere then he has a chance to shop his wares. We'll pick the next young guy and put that young guy in that spot, pat him on the butt, pump him up and go forward. He'll see he was treated fairly and the next guy will look at that and see that he got his chance and look what he did. If we can't afford him, it's great if he can go elsewhere because in this [day and age] you get a chance to get them on the rebound. Then they'll look at how they were treated [before].

Q: How much of a mentoring role have you played for Steve?

A: That's up to coach. That's not of my choosing. When he asks me a question I have to give him a good answer. He asks questions from time to time about things and that's good. That was part of the attraction, both ways, of me coming here, was to assist him in some of those areas. Anybody who ever spends any time around him knows that he's one person who doesn't think he knows everything and he has questions about how they do this or what's being done around the NFL.

John Keim covers the Redskins for The Journal Newspapers and is a correspondent for Pro Football Weekly.


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